The real interference in our democracy comes from the top. We all know that the problem is billionaire donors and lobbyists bankrolling the Tory party. That is where a failure of democracy is happening. We have to stop the Government’s interference with democracy.
Some people have described voter ID as a solution in search of a problem. Actually, I think that gives the Government far too much credit, because this is a cynical ploy. It is a clear attempt by the Government to make it harder for people to vote in elections. That is the only motive I can see when we have this sort of Bill in front of us. More cynically still, it will disproportionately stop BAME, working-class, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people voting. These people find it hard enough to vote already. Anything you put in their way will stop them voting completely; that is preventing democracy.
The Government are spreading fake news about there being massive election fraud in this country. I hope we can get these figures out there, because that is a nonsense. I do not understand why the Government persist in this fake news.
Of course, the real interference in our democracy comes from the top. We all know that the problem is billionaire donors and lobbyists bankrolling the Tory party. That is where a failure of democracy is happening. I hope that the next Government is a Labour Government —with Green support, obviously—and that they start unravelling some of the mess this Government have created for the country. I want a ministerial position—I just point that out. Treasury, please.
We do not even know how far Russian interference in our election goes. Why not try sorting that out before we sort out this non-existent problem of voter fraud? We have to stop the Government’s interference with democracy, today and on subsequent days.
I support the nine amendments of Lord Holmes of Richmond, and congratulate him on pushing this issue. His very modest yet elegant amendments fit into this Bill very well.
I have two more points to make. Why were such accommodations not in the Bill already? The Government are constantly consulting on this or that; surely this is an area that they should have thought about including. They have at least given way now—I hope after my remarks they will not withdraw the offer. Finally, the Royal National Institute of Blind People sent a briefing about this, and it is clear that it feels the Government could go a lot further. It gave two statistics that I thought were quite interesting: every day, 250 people start to lose their sight; and age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Clearly, this is a problem that is going to increase. Therefore, the Government have to look forward and should perhaps bring something even better to update the Bill.
Read the whole debate in Hansard
N.B. There was one defeat at report stage on the Elections Bill. The amendment which succeeded expands the list of specified documents that can be used under the Bill’s voter ID provisions to include non-photo ID documents such as birth or marriage certificates or financial documents.